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Democrats target Trump defenses in first impeachment hearing
Two articulate and polished career diplomats lend gravitas to much-anticipated public event

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, joined by other House Democrats, speaks to reporters Wednesday's hearing. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats used the first day of impeachment hearings to take aim at the various defenses President Donald Trump and his congressional allies have raised during the inquiry into his Ukraine dealings — a strategy that allows them to advance their case alongside a drumbeat of witness testimony over the next two weeks.

The House Intelligence Committee started that push Wednesday with two articulate and polished veteran diplomats, whose deep knowledge of Ukraine turned into succinct explanations of the unusual circumstances surrounding how the Trump administration handled almost $400 million in military aid to the country.

Trump, White House aides show some restraint on Day One of public impeachment hearings
‘I haven’t watched,’ president claims after spokeswoman called televised session ‘boring’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference following their meeting at the White House on Wednesday. Trump also weighed in on Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. (Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — For once, the often-brash and always-combative Trump White House played it safe.

On day one of House Democrats’ public impeachment hearings, President Donald Trump and his top aides opted against firing back to sometimes-damning testimony by two administration witnesses and allegations of corrupt intent from Intelligence Committee Democrats.

Roger Stone’s lies caused inaccurate House Russia report, Mueller team says
Defense says the longtime Trump confidant had no 'motive' to lie

Roger Stone, and his wife, Nydia, arrive at federal court for his trial on Nov. 8, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Lawyers delivered closing arguments Wednesday in the trial of Roger Stone, a longtime Republican political operative and confidant of President Donald Trump accused of lying to Congress about his interactions with the president’s 2016 campaign and his connections to WikiLeaks.

Stone pleaded not guilty in January to a seven-count indictment of lying to investigators, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The jury is expected to begin deliberations Thursday.

GOP relies on familiar defenses as impeachment hearings open
Jordan presses witnesses on Ukraine aid being released without investigation sought

Ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and minority counsel Stephen Castor, confer during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans reached for oft-cited complaints about the impeachment process Wednesday to counter arguments from Democrats and detailed statements from two career diplomats at the start of what will likely be several weeks of contentious hearings into President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

It wasn’t until early afternoon, when a temporary member added to the House Intelligence Committee roster to bolster questioning during the televised proceedings, provided the most forceful defense of Trump in a hearing that otherwise shed little new light — for the viewing public, at least — on the weeks-long inquiry.

White House says Trump ‘too busy’ to watch ‘boring’ impeachment hearing
President cared more about Biden probe than corruption in Ukraine, diplomat testifies

President Donald Trump speaks at an event at the White House earlier this year. He said Wednesday he is not watching the first public impeachment hearing. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump — an avid cable news consumer — contended Wednesday he is “too busy” to watch the first public impeachment hearing, but he dismissed it as a made-for-television “hoax.”

The White House-Republican strategy for providing a counter message to testimony from acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent about two quid-pro-quos with Ukraine’s new president orchestrated by Trump began to unfold in the hearing’s first two hours.

Intelligence Committee leaders set stage for contentious hearing on Trump impeachment
Schiff comes out in prosecutorial style, while Nunes blasts the process as a sham

William Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, are sworn in to the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers on Wednesday immediately staked out their territory in the opening minutes of the first public impeachment hearing into President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine, as witnesses described Kyiv's strategic importance and the threats it faces from Russia.

The opening hours of the hearing kicked off what will almost certainly be several adversarial weeks of testimony over whether the president abused his power by demanding a politically motivated investigation in exchange for U.S. military aid.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 13
Two career diplomats first to offer public testimony, Trump tweets counteroffensive

William Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, are sworn in at the House Intelligence Committee hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two career diplomats who told congressional investigators behind closed doors of their concerns over President Donald Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine and the “irregular channel” in dealing with the country conducted by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani testified today in the first public hearings in the House’s impeachment investigation.

William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told investigators in a closed-door deposition in October that Trump used a stalled $400 million aid package to leverage Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and the involvement of his son Hunter Biden in a Ukrainian energy company. And George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, told the committees conducting the investigation in his closed-door deposition that it was his understanding that Trump wanted the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens and whether the country tried to influence the 2016 election.

Live: First public impeachment hearing
William Taylor and George Kent will be the first two people to testify publicly in the House impeachment inquiry

Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, arrives to the Capitol for a deposition related to the House's impeachment inquiry on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call),

Ambassador William Taylor and George Kent will be the first two people to testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

Taylor, who is slated to testify first, is the acting ambassador in Ukraine and a career diplomat who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations. Kent is the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau.

Republicans need to study the lessons of 2018 and 2019 before racing to 2020
Last week‘s election results show the GOP still has a lot of work to do for next year

The Nov. 5 elections showed that the president will be an asset in certain areas, particularly in red states, but in other places, he simply won’t, Winston writes. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

OPINION — Whenever there is a special election or an off-year one, you can count on both parties to react in a familiar fashion. They focus on the bright spots and dismiss losses by telling us, “Don’t read too much into it.”

Last Tuesday’s elections were a mixed bag for Republicans with some positive gains, but overall, they pointed to some key challenges for next year. Races in traditionally red states like Mississippi went generally well for the most part, as to be expected. Republicans can point to certain local races in upstate New York and New Jersey where there were some noteworthy gains. Notably, while the GOP lost the Kentucky governor’s race by a slim margin, it swept the other five statewide offices, four of them with margins of more than 10 points, and elected a Republican African American attorney general.

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